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The Robots Are Coming -- from Google
The Robots Are Coming -- from Google

By Seth Fitzgerald
December 5, 2013 12:10PM

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Many companies, particularly in the automotive and defense industries, have already begun to focus on robots. Now more tech companies like Google are heading down the same road. Before Google's robot news, Amazon unveiled its own automation project -- drones and robots delivering products to customers in just 30 minutes.
 



Though not all of its products are perfect, Google has revolutionized numerous technology industries. Whether it's the way people use the Internet or the way communication occurs, Google has always tried to be at the forefront of emerging sectors of the tech industry and it may now be doing the same thing with robots.

In the past six months, Google has acquired seven robotics companies and the search giant is now looking to build its own robots. Details regarding the types of robots that Google is working on have been minimal but Google has confirmed that Andy Dubin is managing the project.

Not For Consumers

Google may be quiet when it comes to the robots, previously being worked on in secret, but based on the companies that Google has acquired, we can infer that these robots will not be for consumers. Instead, the robots will be meant for businesses in the manufacturing sector that are trying to automate their supply chains.

By acquiring seven American and Japanese companies for this venture, Google should be able to build a line of manufacturing robots that are far superior to what any of the individual companies have designed. Many of the robots have traditionally been weak and are sometimes significantly weaker than humans, however Google has fixed this problem by acquiring Schaft, a company that specializes in stronger robots.

Prior to spearheading this new project, Andy Rubin was leading the Android team. But when he left that position, he asked Google's executives to invest in this project. The investment amount has not been disclosed but since the company is building manufacturing robots, it was likely a good chunk of money.

A Growing Industry

Many companies, particularly in the automotive and defense industries, have already begun to focus on robots, but in the past year, more technology companies have been heading down the same road. Only a few days before Google confirmed the acquisitions, Amazon showed off its own automation project that would use drones and robots to deliver products to customers in just 30 minutes.

It has been known for quite some time that automation is where most manufacturing businesses are heading, not only are robots cheaper (after an initial investment) but they can frequently be better when it comes to repetitive jobs. Google is not trying to get rid of human workers by investing in a large robotics venture, but if the company is successful, companies will need far less human hands to get a job done.

According to Rubin, there are still some breakthroughs that need to occur before the robotics project can take off and at this point, he is comparing it to Google's self-driving car. “The automated car project was science fiction when it started,” said Rubin. “Now it is coming within reach.”
 

Tell Us What You Think
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Joe:

Posted: 2013-12-06 @ 7:35am PT
Autoplay audio ads should be illegal.

dan:

Posted: 2013-12-06 @ 6:58am PT
Googles primary interest appears to be in going on early and snagging the super obvious patents. Since robotics has been around for a while this doesn't match their usual strategy.



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